Who would think running — not a human necessity after we descended from trees in Africa and ran as quick as we could to collect hemp to clothe our naked vegan butts — would see a resurgence in The Era of Auto-Immobilization? But there they are, those runners, joggers, trainers, trotters and traipsers, clogging our beautiful walking paths with their heavy-breathing, sweaty, malnourished bodies. How unsexy! Even more unsexy is the running of the circles on what is known as a “track” and the throwing of heavy, oddly-shaped instruments in what is known as a “field.”
But apparently there’s a bunch of folklore associated with all these quick-footed hooligans, and the UO’s Folklore Program is offering a class to people who are completely puzzled why anyone would strap on ugly shoes and run further than the corner bus stop.
The class, “Track Town Traditions & The Culture of Running,” will examine running’s cross-cultural contexts (like, how come Kenya is such a great country for running? Do they have bike paths through the slums there, too?) and follow the heritage of running culture at the UO and in Eugene (maybe the class will explain why the Eugene Marathon ends on a football field?). Also, the class explores the culture and lore of running as expressed through:
Traditions: Pre-race pasta feeds
Rituals: Vaseline on the nipples and between the legs
Beliefs: Vaseline prevents chafing
Humor: High-cut shorts
“Body-lore”: To shave or not to shave leg hair?
Material Culture: The cult of New Balance. Sorry, Nike, but no runner we know wears your shoes with a straight face.
“Track Town Traditions & The Culture of Running” runs June 23-July 3, (nearly) coinciding with the Olympic Trials. For more info, see www.uoregon.edu — Chuck Adams